US$2m pledged for Pacific health

SUBSIDIES::The fund, to be available from next month to August next year, is to help Taiwanese teams enhance treatment of patients with special conditions in the region

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Sep 06, 2018 - Page 1

Taiwan is to establish a US$2 million fund to subsidize Taiwanese medical teams that serve Pacific Islands Forum member states, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said yesterday.

Wu made the announcement at a Sustainable Development Goals 17 roundtable in Nauru, one of the nation’s diplomatic allies.

The roundtable was organized by Nauruan President Baron Divavesi Waqa to bring together his nation’s developmental partners and forum members to discuss ways to build a stronger region, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a news release.

Wu, who is leading Taiwan’s delegation to the forum, in the roundtable’s opening address talked about the nation’s long-term dedication to the development of Pacific countries’ agriculture, education, medicine and infrastructure, the ministry said.

“In light of Pacific nations’ dire need for medicine and healthcare, Wu announced the establishment of a US$2 million special medical fund that will be used to subsidize our professional medical teams traveling to the forum’s member states to provide medical services,” the ministry said.

The fund would complement Taiwan’s existing medical assistance programs in the region and provide funding to Taiwanese medical teams in the Pacific to enhance treatment of patients with special conditions, it said.

The fund would be available from next month to August next year, ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said, adding that Norway, Cuba, Canada, Italy and India announced similar programs at the roundtable event.

The forum is an intergovernmental organization established in 1971 to enhance cooperation among Pacific Ocean nations. It has 18 members, six of which have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan: Nauru, Tuvalu, Palau, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands.

Taiwan has since 1993 participated in forum events as a developmental partner under the name “Taiwan/Republic of China.”

The forum’s annual gathering attracted particular media attention on Tuesday, after Waqa accused Chinese envoy Du Qiwen (杜起文) of being “insolent” and a “bully” for interrupting others during a leaders’ meeting.

“He insisted and was very insolent about it, and created a big fuss and held up the meeting of leaders for a good number of minutes when he was only an official,” Waqa said. “Maybe because he was from a big country he wanted to bully us.”